Thursday, September 02, 2010

Shockwave sent through mining heartland after ALP-Greens alliance

LABOR'S alliance with the Greens has sent a shockwave through Australia's mining heartland. From the coalfields of the NSW Illawarra to Queensland's Bowen Basin, the pact has sparked fears among workers and bosses that the industry will come under attack through the introduction of an emissions trading scheme and possible changes to Labor's mining tax.

Senior mining executives warned that the Labor-Greens alliance had the potential to reignite the advertising war with the government because of perceptions in the industry that the Greens' policies were anti-mining.

Queensland miner Ross Robinson has a warning for Labor: "Go too green and give up any hope of winning back the Queensland seats lost at the election." A 30-year veteran of the industry, the machine operator says it is the new taxes - the carbon "tax" and the resources rent tax - that have his colleagues talking, despite their political leanings.

"It's quite often talked about," he said. "A big majority of the miners are dead against it. Labor lost Dawson and Flynn and they're both mining areas - it says a lot."

Down in the Illawarra, on the NSW south coast, coalminers Rod Boeck and Wilf O'Donnell need no reminding of the importance of the mining sector to the nation's economy, let alone the livelihood of thousands of local workers. "Mining is the backbone of the Illawarra region," Mr O'Donnell said."It provides three jobs off the mine site for every one job on the mine site." The men work at the NRE No 1 Colliery, which is owned and operated by Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Limited.

The Illawarra is rusted-on, blue-collar Labor territory, where coal mines are in easy reach of the export hub of Port Kembla.

In the two local federal seats of Cunningham and Throsby, the ALP MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones hold commanding leads, with more than 60 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote. And the prospect of a Gillard government siding with the Greens - the very party that could sink the mining sector with its push for an increased mining tax and a high price on carbon - is unlikely to be easily digested.

The mining industry is nervous about the Greens having influence over policymaking, given the party wants to stop any expansion of the coal industry, phase out coal power in favour of renewables, shut down uranium mining and reintroduce the RSPT.

Mr Robinson, a conservative voter from Blackwater, 840km northwest of Brisbane, said Labor would inevitably want taxes that would hurt the industry. "To get the Greens' support on passing legislation one way or another, they're going to be wanting concessions (from Labor) leaning towards their idealistic policies," he said.

Mr Robinson said a carbon tax would hurt the resources industry and move companies, and jobs, offshore. "I think that will be quite detrimental to the mining industry, if not in the immediate future, then further down the line," he said. "I don't think it's good for anybody. "I can't see any good coming of it. They're taxing everything, even the water - now they're taxing the air. It's not going to make any difference."

Mining is a key industry in the north Queensland region, where 8 per cent of workers in the surrounding electorate of Flynn and more than 5 per cent of workers in the neighbouring seat of Dawson are directly employed in the resources sector.

Both electorates fell to the Coalition at the August 21 election, among seven electorates won from Labor across Queensland, plus two seats held by the Liberal National Party despite having become notionally Labor.

In the mining-dominated town of nearby Nebo, Les Carlton runs a workshop that services machinery for the surrounding mines. He said an environment tax was a good idea in theory but the money generated would be spirited away with no accountability. "It will be another tax that has to be paid and no one will see any benefit," Mr Carlton said. "Everyday Joe Blow is not going to find out where that money goes. "I'm not saying it won't work (but) there needs to be accountability so that people can see that the money is being used."


Telcos lob a grenade at the Labor party's broadband policy

At 3 billion versus 43 billion, you would think all sides would welcome the new plan but the Labor party doesn't care about cost. Getting their way is all that matters to them

An alliance of telcos has lobbed a last-minute grenade into talks around who will form the next government by proposing a new broadband plan that appears more aligned with the Coalition's policy than Labor's national broadband network.

The Alliance for Affordable Broadband - comprising telcos including Allegro Networks, PIPE Networks, BigAir, Vocus Communications, AAPT, Polyfone and EFTEL - proposes government-subsidised fibre backhaul but recommends connecting the country with a fourth-generation (4G) national wireless broadband network.

Whereas Labor's government-funded plan will connect 93 per cent of homes with fibre-optic cables, the alternative plan, similar to the Coalition's, will connect homes via a new wireless broadband network. The 4G network would connect 98 per cent of Australians and offer speeds of up to 100Mbps.

The release of the broadband manifesto coincides with meetings between the key independents and members of the government and NBN Co. The independents will decide who will form the next government and broadband is shaping up as a key factor in negotiations.

"We believe the argument for a national fibre-only NBN solution has failed to convince," the alliance of telcos said in a statement released yesterday. "A well-informed independent member of Parliament might wisely favour an NBN version 3 public-private model on a mix of technology, with deliverables within a term, over a more costly and more risky eight-plus years NBN 2.0 rollout."

Asked why they didn't release the plan before the election, alliance member Jason Ashton, chief executive of Big Air, said the delay was due to the fact that the Coalition released its broadband policy late in the election cycle.

The Coalition seized on the alternative broadband plan as evidence that Labor's $43 billion broadband plan was a "white elephant" that was technically and economically deficient.

Labor's plan will give speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, whereas the alliance believes 100Mbps is good enough. "We see the greatest priority is giving broadband to those who don't have any, not faster broadband to those that have," the alliance said.

More here

Opposing same-sex adoption is not bigoted

By Peter Kell (Peter Kell is chief executive of Anglicare Sydney)

The optimal family arrangement is for a biological mother and biological father raising their children in a committed long-term relationship. Where this is not possible, the next best arrangement should replicate as closely as possible the primary arrangement of biological mother and father.

This would lead us to err on the side of supporting adoption by heterosexual over same-sex couples to replicate those optimal conditions, in which the unique physical and emotional traits of each parent provide appropriate role modelling and nurturing for the child in a complimentary way.

Under the NSW Adoption Act, the best interests of the child are paramount. The act conforms to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Therefore, the onus is on those supporting an amendment to the Adoption Act to demonstrate the ability by same-sex couples to provide equivalent optimal care.

This is not quite as easy as it might at first seem. The research cited on both sides of the same-sex argument to support their claims was at best inconclusive and at worst methodologically flawed.

Last year, an inquiry by the Legislative Council into adoption by same-sex couples considered a range of evidence about parenting by mothers and fathers and by same-sex couples.

A submission by Anglicare Sydney noted that research on same-sex carers had been affected by both methodological flaws and ideological debates. Anglicare Sydney concluded that, in the best interests of children, the state should err on the side of caution on adoption - even more so in areas where research, at best, appears ambiguous. And the members of the committee were far from unanimous about the research evidence.

The position we took in the inquiry drew on 45 years of direct experience in the provision of adoption services in NSW. Anglicare Sydney works every day with birth families, with children who have been put up for adoption (including many children with special needs) and with people seeking to adopt a child.

One thing we have sought to pursue is an optimal outcome for the child. It is a child's right to have the best possible family environment.

It is important to consider that the proposed amendment as it stands does not distinguish between "known" and "unknown" adoptions. This is a vital distinction when considering the best interests of a child.

All the examples of same-sex parenting cited by those in favour of the amendment refer to known adoptions, where a child is already part of a family unit in which the parenting role is undertaken by a same-sex couple.

There may be instances where it might be in the best interests of a child already in a relationship with a carer for adoption to occur with the consent, as required, of the child's biological parents.

However, the amendment also applies where a child or infant is unknown to the prospective adoptive parents. In this instance, the best interests of children would be served by seeking to provide them with the optimal care offered by both a mother and a father.

In unknown adoptions, birth parents select potential adoptive parents from profiles presented to them. They usually prefer a mother and a father over single adoptive parents. When the Adoption Act in Tasmania was amended, it maintained this important distinction, allowing for known same-sex adoption, but not for unknown adoptions.

Anglicare Sydney is not seeking to perpetuate and condone discrimination against gay people. The Adoption Act makes it clear that adoption is a service for the child, not the adoptive parents, and that no one has the right to adopt.

We believe that the proposed amendment is not a proper application of the law against homosexual discrimination.

Discrimination issues should have no bearing on reasons to promote same-sex adoption. The only relevant consideration ought to be whether same-sex adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Amending the Adoption Act ought not to be a vehicle for sending a message to people about removing prejudice against same-sex relationships and encouraging the general acceptance of same-sex relationships.


Dysfunctional, corrupt and rotten, the end is finally nigh for the NSW Labor party

AN INQUIRY into the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, a corruption finding against a NSW Maritime lawyer and, to top it off, the resignation of a cabinet minister who admitted accessing adult and gambling websites on his parliamentary computer.

Even by the standards of the eternally scandal-ridden Labor government, yesterday was a bad day for public administration in NSW.

But, of course, it doesn't end there. The Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether to bring charges against a former Labor MP and parliamentary secretary, Karyn Paluzzano, over rorting her public expenses and lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about it.

Next week, the commission will launch public hearings into two separate cases involving employees of the Sydney Water corporation.

And on and on it goes. The resignation of four ministers this year. This is the state of NSW, just seven months out from an election.

The government is drowning in the polls. Only a week ago Kristina Keneally warned her troops to find some discipline before the election in March. Paul McLeay, it appears, was their response.

But what is wrong goes much wider than the behaviour of the Keneally government's MPs. The fact is that around Parliament, in the pubs and at the football, people are referring to the government as corrupt. Not in the sense of any particular minister or public servant, mind you. They are disparaging the whole system, from top to bottom, as riddled with self interest, opportunism and rorting of the public purse.

Former independent state MP John Hatton who announced yesterday he would stand as a independent candidate for the Legislative Council, uses the word with conviction. "We live in a corrupt state," his media release stated.

To a fair-minded person, it is a statement that should be treated with some scepticism.

Then again, Hatton should know, as he is credited with forcing the royal commission into the NSW Police Service. "Open, accountable government, a level playing field for all business, freedom of information, ethical, impartial decision making in key areas simply does not exist in NSW," Hatton declared. He has come out of retirement to tackle his old enemy. It's as if he can smell it.


Mass breakout from Australian immigration detention centre

This is good news. Pictures of illegals rioting and protesting about being locked up were a major factor in stopping the flow under the Howard government. Potential illegals decided that they didn't like the look of where they would end up so stopped coming. One hopes that TV images of the latest protest went around the world -- as they did last time

More than 80 asylum-seekers broke out of an Australian immigration detention centre on Wednesday after days of riots and staged a seven-hour protest outside, police said.

The detainees escaped from the centre in the far northern city of Darwin at about 6:30 am, a spokeswoman told AFP. Media reports said the protesters were Afghans and unfurled a banner saying, "We need protection not detention".

Police said the protest ended when 76 were taken into custody at the Darwin watchhouse and another five, including two suffering from heat exhaustion, were taken to a nearby hospital where they remained under immigration custody. "They peacefully came into our custody," Assistant Police Commissioner Rob Kendrick told reporters.

The mass break-out comes after more than 100 alleged people-smugglers torched mattresses and staged a protest on the roof of the detention centre in two days of disturbances on Sunday and Monday.

The centre for 450 people is housing 151 Indonesians accused of people-smuggling, with the remainder asylum seekers or people who have overstayed visas.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said all the men who escaped Wednesday were asylum seekers. "Many of them have actually had their initial claim for asylum refused, and there is a protest activity," Senator Evans told reporters. "I stress these are asylum seekers, they are not criminals, and they are seeking support... for their claims for asylum."

Australia has a policy of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers while their claims are processed, and generally processes the immigrants at remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

But increased numbers of poor immigrants -- more than 4,000 this year, mainly poor Asians fleeing conflict and economic hardship -- have forced the reopening of isolated centres on the country's mainland.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the protest was symptomatic of the overcrowding in centres. "This is a pressure cooker situation," he said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

How could anyone believe that a NSW Government would be corrupt? Why the very suggestion.....